When: Mon., Jan. 12, 9 p.m. 2015
music | KAYO DOT | MONDAY, JAN. 12
LOCAL 506, CHAPEL HILL—Toby Driver admits he's a private person. As the composer and sole consistent member of avant-metal group Kayo Dot, his complex work has long reflected a desire to conjure a world that only he can understand. With every Kayo Dot album—at least from their debut, Choirs of the Eye, to 2013's sprawling Hubardo—Driver wanted to deliver a challenge the listener would never quite complete.
"I could write about something that only I would understand," Driver says, not just talking about the musical mix of modern classical, death metal and free jazz. "Let's say the lyrics dealt specifically with this one thing that happened to me in this one place that I know from my hometown: People are going to interpret it in a certain way, which is great for them. But they're going to be wrong about what it is."
With last year's Coffins on Io, however, Driver opted to make something more alluring, sensual and open. The band taps gothic rock, Peter Gabriel's early solo records, '70s krautrock and the swing of Roxy Music. Old sounds are reconfigured to suit today's wanderlust. It's as restless as it is smooth. Initially, Driver thought about releasing Coffins under a different name because it was such a radical departure from what Kayo Dot's fans expected.
"In the past couple years, I've been thinking about trying to write in a more inviting way, and to write things that are less alienating to people," he said. "I don't want to be redundant and keep exploring the same kind of internal experiences over and over again."
So have Kayo Dot gone pop? Not quite. Many of the songs are still long, but it remains the band's most accessible work, representing a sea change both in sound and presentation.
Driver admits he wants to become more extroverted; he describes himself now as a "reluctant introvert." With Coffins, Driver wanted to appeal to people who find social experiences more gratifying, to share what they feel.
"If we deliberately try to express sexuality in our music, I'm forced as an introvert to have these more extroverted relationships with people," he says. "I grow in that way."
With Caleb de Casper and Tescon Pol. 9 p.m., $7–$9, 506 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 919-942-5506, local506.com. —Andy O'Connor